In recent days, the Kenyan government has faced criticism from the International community. On May 22, 2020 United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing Balakrishnan Rajagopal and Mary Lawlor issued warnings to the Kenyan Government; that they must halt all evictions happening during the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier this week, Justice John Mutungi of the Environment and Lands Court (ELC) in Nakuru issued a temporary order suspending an ongoing eviction of dwellers in the Eastern Mau Complex.
Pending the hearing and determination of an ongoing suit, Hon Justice Mutungi issued the order compelling the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources; the Attorney General; Kenya Forests Service and the Nakuru Regional Commissioner from effecting ongoing Eastern Mau Complex evictions.
The order is a reprieve for dwellers in the Eastern Mau Complex that covers Nessuit, Tachasis Chepkosa, Sururu, and Likia as they would have been left without an alternative means of living.
The petitioner, Mr Samuel Tonui, who is also the deputy speaker of the County Assembly of Nakuru, pleaded the court to stop the ongoing eviction of over 40,000 families from Mariashoni in Njoro, Nakuru County citing gross human rights violations.
Through Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich, the court was urged to declare the eviction exercise as illegal since all the affected persons had genuinely acquired title deeds from the Ministry of Lands. Furthermore, the lawyer urged the court to compel the state to conduct a fresh survey of the entire Mau Forest so as to verify if indeed any illegal settlers resided in the Mau Complex.
In convincing the learned judge, the lawyer informed the court that some evicted families previously residing in the Mau Complex at Sururu, Marioshoni, Baraget, and Nesuit were already living in squalor amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, that the government had evicted them without providing an alternative.
The matter is scheduled for an inter-partes hearing on July 30,2020.
On May 26, 2017, members of the hunter-gatherer Ogiek indigenous community won a land rights case against the Kenyan State. In a case adjudicated by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, a judgment was entered into whereby the court faulted the Kenyan government for evicting members of the Ogiek Community out of the Mau forest without providing them with an alternative resettlement area.
On July 12, 2020 Njoro Constituency MP Charity Kathambi Chepkwony urged the government to extend the ongoing eviction of illegal settlers in Mau Forest to include all encroachers. She had claimed that the exercise which started in Mariashoni at the beginning of July targeted serfs at the expense of influential people who owned large tracks of land in the water catchment forest.
“Let the eviction be fair and across the board instead of the current scenario where only grass-thatched houses are burnt and those powerful individuals who were allocated land are not touched,” she said.
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